Previously on Five Seconds:
Andy and Parker enjoy warm conversation over dinner in her apartment. We learn both sides to this new relationship.
Does Andy go to the party with Parker or does she blow him off?Click To Reveal Results
The phone rang once before it was answered.
"You forgot to phone me yesterday," my aunt greeted.
"I'm sorry Aunty!"
Everyday around this time I would phone her to catch up on things, and just listen to her voice. I didn't realize how much I missed home until Aunty would tell me all the crazy antics of the day.
"The city is swallowing you already. I told you, suburbs. Not downtown, only a crazy person would live in the heart of Vancouver. Downtown is too busy for real living. There's no time to stop and smell the roses. Literally!"
"Aunty, the suburbs are for families."
"At least their dogs have yards."
I took a deep breath. There really was no way to stop Aunty when she went off on a tangent. Although she supported my move, she supported moving to the smaller cities outside of Vancouver more.
"Anyways Aunty, I'm sorry I didn't phone last night. I was just busy. I had unplanned plans."
"You!" she exclaimed. "You did something that you didn't plan out? The city is changing you, but I didn't expect it to change that."
"The city isn't changing me, I just, met a guy."
Aunty hesitated before saying, "A boy? You have a boyfriend already?"
"No, no—not yet at least. But he came over yesterday and we had dinner together and he's really nice and funny and I think he'd be a really good decision. He's a new beginning and he's just what I need. My life can be complete again."
Aunty was quiet for a moment. "You think having a boyfriend will complete your life?"
"Yeah… he'll make everything okay again."
"What is this boy going to make right again?" Aunty ridiculed. "No boy is going to make anything right."
"Aunty don't be mean." As much as I loved her and worshipped her words, sometimes they stung, and this was one of those times. "He's the only one in this city who's bothered to learn about me. He's a good guy, he cares about me."
"Is that the actual truth or just the one you've conjured up in your brain? Andy, you have to make sure you truly like him and not just the idea of him. Not everyone in the world is worth the trouble."
I had so much to say, but I learned quickly that I should never feed words to my aunt that she could use one day to tell me so. I decided on a neutral answer. "I'll be smart Aunty. I promise." I really did mean it—there was no way I would ever throw caution to the wind. I just wasn't holding back on my optimism.
The conversation ventured off. Yesterday a raccoon got into the neighbour’s garbage and the debris stretched across four properties. Aunty said that if Newt was still up there the raccoon never would've done it, but was still happy he was with me to help me in the city. I still felt guilty nonetheless. She also said the lake was unnaturally warm for a late September day, and spent the afternoon dangling her feet off the dock.
"Anyways," she wrapped up. "The neighbours have invited me over for dinner, and want me to bring the margarita machine. I started having flashbacks of my days travelling the Baja. You know, I really do hope you go out and have fun in the city. There's nothing like a good bar crawl with a few of your closest. Just remember: no tequila. It makes your clothes fall off."
"Aunty!" I exclaimed. I could feel my face reddening as fast as a jet. "I am not going on one of your drunk adventures, I have no plans to get naked in front of anyone anytime soon, and I will not put that vile liquid down my throat. Go have fun at the neighbours, and please remember your age!"
"Honey, age is just a timer. I've only got so much time left, and there's no way I'm not living it. It's Friday, go out tonight and have fun! When I was your age I was the life of the party. You wonder why I'm so wise? It's cause I lived what I'm saying."
"Okay Aunty. I'll remember that. I love you and goodbye. I'll talk to you tomorrow."
"Love you to infinity and beyond."
The phone clicked off and I leaned back on my bed. For once I was actually going out and living. A party. In the city. With a wonderful boy. The corners of my mouth lifted up.
I was finally living.
Five to seven I found myself at the front door of the apartment building feeling ridiculous in my "formal attire." I had on my boots, black jeans, and a red plaid shirt that didn't button up properly—curse the well endowed chest I had received in the ninth grade. People were probably showing up to this party dressed to the nines—there was no way I could compete with their looks. High heels were and forever would be a foreign presence; sparkles were tacky, itchy, and blinding; and dresses just weren't my thing.
I laughed. Me in a dress. That was about as likely as my dog being a vegetarian. Perhaps compared to the others in this city, I looked like trash, but if I was to compare how I looked tonight to previous times in my life, I looked quite good. I had my hair down for once—I even ran a brush through it. I had on the necklace my aunt gave me, and the only make up I could ever figure out—mascara and eyeliner—adorned my face. This wasn't dressed up for some people, but for me it was. That was all that mattered, right?
God I felt like a fool.
I was just about to back out when the elevator doors opened and revealed Parker standing there in his best clothes. He had his hair brushed up and back, a button down, and those same damn skinny jeans from the first day I met him. I found myself noticing things I hadn't before. Like how those long dark eyelashes framed those piercing blues, or how his bright lips stood out against his pale skin, and when he smiled, the dimples formed on his cheeks.
"Well, somebody can clean up!" he announced enthusiastically.
I was taken aback. I was in rags compared to him. Why would he say something so nice? "You're not half bad yourself," I said quietly.
He smirked. "How much effort did it take you to say that?"
I felt the corners of my lips tilt up. He was toying with me. I decided to toy back. "More than you'll ever know."
A silence enveloped us, and I found myself staring at Parker waiting for him to say something. His presence was a total opposite to what it was this morning. I was still curious as to why he was so raggedy, but I didn't think he would want to answer.
"Come on," he opened the door and I followed him outside. "Party's started already."
I jolted. "You mean we're late!" I exclaimed.
He rolled his eyes. "Fashionably."
A tidal wave of nerves flooded my body. "Are you sure it's okay if I come? I was, after all, never invited."
"It's fine. No one will notice."
I gnawed on my bottom lip. No matter how nonchalant Parker was, it didn't do anything to quench the uneasiness I had about this.
We were at the party before I knew it, thanks to the unparalleled speeds Parker's car reached. We were in a new part of Vancouver I had never known existed. There were actual houses—they even had yards. However this house we approached was a mansion. I instantly knew this was a terrible decision. Lights were flashing, and I could hear the music from here—it was strange music too. There may have been words, but they were drowned out by the obnoxious beat that made me feel like my eardrums were furiously trying to escape.
I followed Parker up the winding staircases to the front door. Without knocking, he opened it, and a blast of loud noises invaded my eardrums further. I almost lost the boy as soon as he stepped through.
I chased after him as he enthusiastically greeted his friends. I stood there like a tree in a field waiting for him to introduce me. Instead, they all carried on with their lives as if I was a speck of dust—I didn't know if I was okay with that or not.
The night went on and he mingled with everyone there that had a mouth. Every reflection he passed by he checked his appearance. I rolled my eyes as I silently followed. I soon found myself standing next to him in the front room near the door, talking to a plant. I'm sure the plant couldn't understand what I was saying, because I couldn't either. The damn music was too loud. This music was a disgrace to other pieces of art. The beat was plain, and the singer sounded like he was wailing. Or yodelling.
I felt the rush of the door opening, and drank in the cool air while it lasted as if I was stranded in a dessert. Conversations seemed to slow, and a strange feeling permeated the air. Suddenly, Parker wrapped his arm around my waist, and pulled me into his side tightly. A shiver ran down my spine and I froze completely.
"Anyways Louis, look at this dime right here," he said.
Woah, I was being introduced. I finally existed again!
But Louis wasn't paying attention. Instead, he was staring at the door, just like the rest of the company. I followed their gaze to the door, where a tall gorgeous woman with long flowing hair was standing like a queen, and staring in my direction. Immediately, I got the sense that I needed to get the hell out of Dodge.
The woman walked through with her head held high, her hips swaying with confidence, and her long blonde locks that flowed behind her like a cape. If he could—and he did, Parker pulled me in even closer. Nerves bubbled in my stomach and I wanted to retch.
I knitted my eyebrows and looked up at Parker, who was gazing at the woman with an unreadable expression. He ignored me all night, fixed his appearance every corner, and now here he was acting as if I was a golden trophy.
And then it hit me.
Parker didn't want me.
He just wanted his ex to see.
Bile rose in my throat.
Great Andy. So in the few weeks you've been in the "big city", you've stuck out like a sore thumb, almost ruined a guy with your dog, went on a date with him, then went on another date, just to be used.
This guy wanted nothing to do with me. I just got in the way and he found a good excuse to use me to get the golden girl and throw away the girl in the plaid shirt.
I should've seen the signs. I should've known.
Conversations slowly resumed, and of course that tall woman was on us in an instant.
"Tessa," Parker said. "Who knew you were going to arrive."
She smirked. "Who knew." Her voice was like honey and her looks matched a Greek goddess.
The two stared each other down.
"So, how've you been?"
"Good—great actually. Although my hair could use some work." She threw the platinum locks over one shoulder. As if. It was probably just an excuse to show off the unnaturally pretty hair.
More staring happened between the two.
Parker pulled me in front. Oh God.
"This is Andy. She's not from here."
She gave me a once over. "Charming I'm sure."
Her eyes shot bullets into my soul, and humiliation bled through my body. I never should've moved. I never should've left home.
What I would do to get out of this building, and out of this city.
The so-called conversation continued, each throwing remarks of how they were better off without the other. Soon, the conversation directed elsewhere, and I slinked off before I heard anything I didn't want to. I rushed out of the building and took a deep breath of fresh air.
I didn't know what I hated more—Parker, that girl, or this city.
I didn't know how long it took me to get home, or how lost I managed to get, but my feet hurt, and my head pounded. I reached my door, and dug through my purse in search of my keys.
I reflected on the night. Why did I ever think this was a good idea? Did I even think? No, of course not. I was just too intoxicated with the idea of Parker to be smart. Parker would never want me. Especially when he had Tessa on his menu. I was such a stupid girl.
The bigger question however, was moving here. Why would I leave the comfort of what I had grown up in, for something so out of my comfort zone? I was a terrible person for thinking that leaving my aunt all alone for this unreasonable dream was a good idea. My head continued to throb. Where the hell were my keys?
I missed home. I missed my aunt. I missed the words that left her mouth. I missed the trees and the crisp air. I even missed the solitude. Every corner I turned I felt like someone was breathing on me. I couldn't even walk my dog without getting rude remarks or weird stares. The only thing I enjoyed was my job, but even there I was an outcast. There was nothing in the city for me. I felt so embarrassed. Everyone at home was excited for my adventure, and I had failed them. Where were those damn keys?
I threw my purse down in frustration.
I sunk to the ground against the door fighting tears.
I was a speck of dust in the big vast world. Who was I to think I could take on something like this? Who was I to say I wanted to meet people and go places? I buried my face in my arms.
Footsteps sounded down the hall, but I ignored them. Hopefully, if I just sat here motionless, I would be ignored like I always was. But with my luck, it was unlikely. And off course, the person stopped right in front of me.
"Andy?" It was Parker. Of all people. "What are you doing?"
"Please don't talk to me."
"Woah, what's up with you. I found your keys in my car. I just came by to drop them off. Is there a problem?"
My head snapped up. "Yes, actually. There is. You. Now go."
"What's up your ass?" He put his hands up in mock defense.
"You used me!"
"What are you talking about?"
I climbed to my feet. "Don't deny it. Don't!"
"No! You took me there just so your ex could see." I forced every bit of venom I held into those words.
He didn't miss a beat. "Well hey, you agreed to go! Besides, why should you even care?"
I growled in frustration. "I can't believe you. I mean, of all people in this damn city, it was you who showed me respect. It was you who welcomed me. But I guess I'm just the naive girl from a one horse town. Who would want me anyways—I have nothing to give the world. I just thought maybe something would happen and my life would actually make sense for once. Good. Bye." I snatched my keys and turned away.
"Hey now come back. We can talk this out." His words were suddenly a lot softer, and I hated that I wanted to turn around and go back to him.
"Shut up Parker. I'm just overreacting as per usual right?" I opened my door, and slammed it behind me.
My eyelids slowly broke apart and opened up. It wasn't a graceful motion—it definitely didn't feel like that. It felt more like a door opening on a creaky hinge, screaming for relief. The weight of the previous night came crashing into me like a giant building. I sat up in bed.
There was no pretty side to this. No way to understand any of it, make sense of the senseless. There was never anything between us, but why did it hurt so much? How could a loss like this hurt as if it was a permanent wound. It shouldn't hurt—not after the way I lost my family. Yet, this was a different hurt. Parker wasn't gone for good, but he was still there in almost a mocking way.
I climbed out of bed and towards the bathroom. I splashed ice-cold water on my face. My face in the mirror reflected purple eyes and pale cheeks. But it also reflected strong shoulders and a head held straight. I sighed. Every ounce I put into feeling better than I currently felt, seemed so awkward and fake.
I was just another stupid girl. I shouldn't have been fantasizing about romance and Prince Charming. There was no time in the world to be a wide-eyed dreamer. Even though high school only ended the previous year, I had to be a grown up. Which meant prioritizing and being responsible—which is exactly why I should've picked up more toilet paper yesterday.
I groaned out loud. Did I want to face the world today? No. But I already strategized the small little square that was left, and Newt was giving me a look.
"Yeah, I messed up," I said to him, and pulled on a hoodie. "I get it. You don't have to give me that look."
I had my hood pulled over my head to hide me from the world. I reached for my door handle and pulled it open. A thud sounded by my feet. I looked down and into the icy cold eyes of Parker Dee himself.
"I fell asleep," he said before I could finish my sentence.
"Here of all places?" I took a step back.
He seemed to notice my defensive tone, and scrambled to his feet. "Please let me explain Andy."
"I don't want to hear any more lies."
"I'll be clean. I promise."
Newt came up in front of me and stood his guard. Parker took a minor step back, then stepped forward.
"Why should I let you in?"
"Because I don't want to end whatever this was, like this. Maybe I'm lazy, I'm not always responsible, but I hate hurting people. And I hate that I can see that hurt in your eyes. I'm so sorry, Andy. When we met I was still hurt, and you say I showed you respect… that's ridiculous—you were the first one to show me respect in a long time. The city needs more people like you. You're a breath of fresh air. And I'm so angry that I hurt that."
I bit my lip and looked down. I couldn't look into his intoxicating eyes after that—they held nothing but the truth. "But you still like the other girl."
"Tess… we've known each other for forever."
"But you like her. She makes you happy."
"As long as you're happy. We can just be friends."
I let out a small laugh. "I'm moving," I said without much thought, but as soon as the words left my mouth things started to make sense.
"I have to. The big city isn't for me." I could feel the wheels clicking in my brain and a whole new plan was being implemented. Aunty's words rang through my head. A yard for Newt. A new beginning in a much more comfortable town. A flame burst high in the dying hearth within me.
"You're not going back home though." The urgency in his voice was cute.
"I won't be far, just, far enough." The suburbs perhaps. Or maybe the Tri-cities. I had recently learned that Coquitlam was the best city in the lower-mainland in the chance of an earthquake. And they had a college there. Perhaps I could transfer my job.
"I'm sorry." Parker had his hands shoved into those silly jeans.
I shrugged my shoulders. "I should've known better."
He threw me into an awkward hug. "Now don't you forget about me."
I laughed. Real this time. "How could I forget someone who goes to the beach in black jeans?"
"I'm not going to forget you."
I smiled. He let go of me. "Um, I suck at goodbyes. I don't know how to do them."
"This isn't forever. I'll see you around, I'm sure. Just keep in contact." He turned and walked away. But before he got to the end of the hallway, he turned around and said, "Good luck!"
And then he was gone.
Newt nudged my leg. I sighed, knelt down and buried my face in his fur. Fuzz-therapy was all I needed for this small little hurdle. I was better and stronger than this anyway. I could cry—and I almost did—but I didn't. Boys were not worth tears. This was no loss, only a lesson. Yes, I felt so stupid for thinking I had any sort of chance in this huge vast city, but it was an experience and another journey to tell.
Andy doesn't feel like she can validate her hurt. Does she have validation? If so, should she really forgive Parker and remain friends?
If there's a book you really want to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it.